Our government and Newmont want us to believe that this automatically equals good economy, good employment and money for roads, schools and hospitals and if we are opposed to mining we are opposed to roads, schools and hospitals. They would have us believe that this romantic marriage between our government and one of the biggest mining companies in the world is good for the people of Waihi and New Zealand.
But this is actually an unhealthy dysfunctional relationship based on power imbalances that is ready for some serious counselling and ultimately a divorce.
Mining is the smallest contributor to the GDP and national employment relative to other industries – not exactly holding the key to the heart of our education and healthcare systems. Mining jobs are caught in the trap in instability that comes with boom and bust industries, this year Newmont has cut its global workforce by 1/3 due to the drop in the gold price.
Dysfunctional relationships ultimately impact on the vulnerable and powerless. We have to keep the family together – we’re doing it for the kids. The realities of living in a mining town are coated in broken promises – there will be a lake, buy a lakeside property… now you’re still in an industrial zone, underground mining – no worries – people are living with vibration, noise and dust. Property values are dropping in Waihi East already and they haven’t even started mining the Correnso yet.
As we heard at a public meeting in Whangamata on Sunday, some Waihi homeowners bought homes withing the mining permit and weren’t told by the company, the council or the real estate agents that there could be mining under their homes.
The permit covers over 1000 homes. People have described it as a prison – they want to leave but they can’t sell, or they can only sell at a loss.
It’s time to be honest with each other and admit that it’s not working, it’s not you it’s me or whatever you need to say. We’ve got to put the ‘kids’ first, not ghost profits or short term economic thinking. Waihi deserves better.